After dominating the campaign from the start it was fitting that the Belfast Giants clinched the fourth national title in their history with a pair of wins at the Nottingham Panthers, last season’s winners, and then sat back and waited as both Dundee and Sheffield lost their games on Sunday night.
It may have been an anti-climax for some who wanted the chance to celebrate a victory on home ice on Friday night against the Coventry Blaze but now it will be a week-long party with the trophy presentation to look forward to.
“We knew we had to get the two wins this weekend to give ourselves a chance. We obviously knew about the result as Edinburgh beat Dundee first and we were kinda following the game between Cardiff and Sheffield with the live twitter update from Sheffield,” explained forward Colin Shields.
“The players were all together with a bunch of fans following the updates and the place erupted when we found out the final score.
“It would have been nice to win it at home but it will still be a pretty big party at the Odyssey next weekend. It’s just been a great season so far with a great group of guys, everyone has pulled their weight. I’m really proud of the guys.”
The Giants won the title with an incredible ten games to spare, winning 22 of their final 23 games including an 11 game ongoing winning streak.
They rounded it off by beating the Panthers 3-1 on consecutive nights then sat back as Dundee blew a 3-1 lead at Edinburgh losing 4-3 and then the Cardiff Devils, with former Giants coach Dave Whistle behind the bench, took care of Sheffield on penalties.
“It’s very special, no doubt it and to do it on the ice of the former champions. It was probably our most clinical performance of the season,” said coach Paul Adey.
“They only had 15 shots. The guys just wanted it so badly this weekend and they came up with the goods and played incredible,” added Adey, who won the championship in his first season in charge.
“You can only win titles with good players and good character and I think that was our key. They were a great bunch of guys with enormous ability and give them credit they worked hard. They came to play every night and it showed because we won it with a lot of games remaining so that’s pretty impressive.
“For me on a personal level at the end of July I lost my father and I was thinking if we could win something special then I could dedicate it to him.”
It promises to be a special week for the Giants with a number of former players including Paxton Schulte, Colin Ward, Mark Cavallin, Jeff Hoad amongst others in town for Rob Stewart’s Testimonial at the Odyssey Arena on Tuesday night, which will now be the start of the celebrations.
The Challenge Cup final and Play-offs are still to come but for now the title win will be enjoyed.
Shields added: “It’s a big deal to win this. There are guys who haven’t won championships in their careers, guys who have been close with the Giants before and came back this season and guys who haven’t won in a long time and this is something we’ll never forget. This is a massive accomplishment.”